Manager of ‘The Hill,’ Butler carves niche in Glenwood Springs tourism
Thirty-eight years ago, Jerry Butler took a huge leap of faith, moving to Colorado Springs from Lansing, Michigan. All by himself, owning just a van, Butler settled in Colorado Springs for about a year, before moving to Glenwood Springs right when the Glenwood Mall opened, working as a manager at The Jock Shop, which was a sporting goods store in the new structure.
A few retail moves later, he’s thriving in the Roaring Fork Valley as a businessman, running Blue Sky Ski Rentals, and serving as the general manager of the Glenwood Springs Golf Course on the hill.
In 1986, Butler bought into Blue Sky Adventure, buying the Blue Sky Ski Rental & Repair from Chuck Lancing and Gary Hansen.
Shortly thereafter, Butler started working part-time at the golf course during the summer season to help offset the offseason for skiing. During his time at the golf course, Butler grew into a full-time role before being named the general manager of the No. 1 rated 9-hole golf course in the state of Colorado, giving him two powerful business positions here in the valley.
Despite holding down such a prominent role in the community as a business owner and manager, Butler says he never saw himself being involved in businesses like this all those years ago.
“I grew up wanting to be an architect,” Butler said recently in an interview inside his office at the Glenwood Springs Golf Course. “In eighth grade I decided that’s what I wanted to do, but two years into college I walked away from it. I never thought I’d get involved with a skiing and rafting company, or become a general manager of a golf course in Colorado; that seems to be the ultimate dream.”
Prior to moving to Colorado Springs, and then Glenwood Springs, Butler worked for Bell Telephone in Lansing, but once the reorganization of the company came in the early 1980s, Butler embarked on the trip to Colorado. All these years later, he’s still here and thriving.
“I knew one person in Colorado when I moved out here,” Butler said. “I had a plan for the first month. The first week, I was going to site-see; the second week I was going to job hunt. Eight hours a day for a week, I was searching all over for jobs. At the end of that week, I had three job offers.
“I tell that story to kids all the time. You can’t be lazy in situations like that; your job at the time is to find a job. But don’t be afraid to take that leap of faith.”
Since that time, Butler has moved up the retail chain, met his wife, Cindy, and purchased a house in the valley, settling into the bustling Roaring Fork Valley.
It’s rare to see a businessman have a hand in two separate businesses, but for Butler, both businesses he runs happen to fall in two different seasons, allowing Butler to thrive in both.
“They overlap at times, but there’s always a window at the end to shoot for,” Butler said. “It’s not the same job year-round. It was tough at first, it was a big step for both. I’m not a big title guy at either. I like to treat people the same. I tell people that work at the ski shop and the golf course to ‘run this place like you own it’ when you’re here at work. I don’t like tooting my own horn at all, it makes me uncomfortable talking about myself.”
Fortunately for Butler, he doesn’t have to do that very often, considering the way he carries himself as a businessman.
While at the golf course, Butler has helped the company thrive, bringing in some fresh ideas, while opening up the course to a number of different tournaments, including this weekend’s low-am tournament on Friday, and then Saturday and Sunday’s Glenwood Open.
Aside from actual golf tournaments, the course has been opened up to disc golf tournaments, as well as cross country events, not to mention a junior golf program, a women’s program, and a parks and recreation program, helping the course bring in younger generations to introduce them to the great game of golf.
“If I had to pick one word for this season at the course, it’s younger,” Butler said. “We recognize how important it is to bring in new faces, and adapt to new situations. It’s important to listen, open up your horizons, and run with things.”
Listening, Butler says, is one of the most important aspects of being a good businessman. Through listening, he hopes people also see just how respectful and compassionate he is as a person.
“I just hope that down the road, when my time comes, that people remember how respectful and fair I was,” Butler said. “I try to treat people the same way, wether they’re an expert skier, or beginner, or a great golfer, or just starting from scratch. It’s important to be kind and considerate to people no matter what. I may not remember your name, but I try to remember one thing about you.”